There’s a chance I’ve mentioned this before on this blog but I often get the feeling when watching a movie or reading a book that I’m wasting time. Not that whatever you might be reading or watching at the time is poor but more that I should be getting on with my own stuff. How can I possibly be gaining ground in my own work if I’m spending time reading somebody else’s?
It’s annoying as hell because it’s an internal reaction I have that makes zero sense under any kind of scrutiny. As a result though it’s rare that I get into a book fully. A few days ago however I bought a book with a token I was gifted at Christmas.
I have never read any Stephen King books. I’ve seen The Shining movie (which King fell out with Kubrick during production of) but I’m not into horror generally. I wondered how a book could be scary, I actually thought that King wasn’t going to be that great.
I’m four chapters in and he’s really bloody good isn’t he? Each character is so well defined in the opening couple of chapters and the story has been brilliant from the get go. I’m actually damned jealous in how he makes this look so easy. It’s uncommon for a book to truly ‘click’ with me this early and I think the last one was Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.
Maybe I can put this down as research then I won’t beat myself up about just chilling with a book.
Also, why I didn’t call this blog entry ‘All Work And No Play Makes Cam A Dull Boy’ escapes me.
I seem to have made the drastic mistake of leaving the rewrite mid chapter back in November. As such I’ve spent the last hour looking between the old and new file and wondering where I kick off again. I seem to have departed the whole thing for Christmas around about the time a young girl gets hauled into the sea by an alien.
This was not a good idea at all.
The section of the book describing all of this in the first draft is wonky. I seem to spend too much time describing the same thing over and over so it’ll need cleaned up afterwards. I had to write a fair chunk of it off the top of my head this afternoon so it reads okay…ish. It’s probably not as good as a pivotal part of the book should be.
The March 4th 2019 two year anniversary date for a complete second rewrite might still be on though.
Progress on the book this December has ground to a halt. It’s not something I’m deeply concerned about as the run up to Christmas has been organising gifts and various other bits. The same thing occured last year but that was a stretch from around October to the following March of nothing much getting done. As long as this current black out doesn’t go that long then we’ll be okay.
2018 was a strange year in that I didn’t really ‘finish’ any writing project. Whilst the first draft of ‘The One Who Left’ was finally done it’s in no readable state right now to anybody bar me. From the point of view of creating stuff for consumption it didn’t quite reach there this year.
But the better news from this year was podcasts. I’m involved in the pro wrestling podcast The Conquistabores and it’s genuinely a fantastic feeling to be talking about old wrestling events with my co-hosts.
Then came The Polis Box.
I first heard of the Doctor Who podcast from up North in that Edinburgh when a link to a near empty WordPress blog popped up on Twitter. The first episode went up inviting people to send in evidence fir or against the particular Who story they were covering at the time. I started sending them tweets mainly to get the kick of having my name read out. Tweets led to emailed options which then turned into recording audio files for them to drop into the show.
Then, in February this year, Lee messaged me asking if I wanted to be part of the podcast full time. So it came to pass that I got the train from Lockerbie to Edinburgh in March to block record three episodes. Dave and Lee were both fantastic company and very welcoming to the awkward Gretna boy who was confused by the big smoke. I went back for more in June and there are more around the corner.
Podcasts are great fun. If somebody could just pay me to talk into a microphone then that would be cool.
The biggest 2019 aim is to get this book done and out there. If I can get a second draft done by March 4th then it’ll mark two years since I wrote the first words on it. That would seem like good timing.
If you’ve been reading this blog since the start in 2012 or if you’ve jumped on in 2017 I wish you all the best for 2019. I don’t often put photos on this blog (bit difficult when it’s about writing) so have a failed selfie with my cat.
I got to a point when I needed a brand new chapter. In the previous draft my alen was kept secret, hidden away in the shadows until about 60-70% of the way through when he revealed himself. It makes far more sense to have him pop up earlier though so his story has a bit more time to bed in as the book goes on. So it means writing a whole new chapter five from scratch as Pilot recovers from his crash landing on Earth.
But the problem became that I was stuck writing this new part and not getting on with rewriting all the other part I had to place in somewhere. The best feeling when rewriting is taking whole wads of text from the older version, cutting, pasting and then seeing the word count bump up another three thousand in seconds. There’s nowhere near as much staring at blank pages going on. It’s a bit of a downward bump to come back to that now.
I’m currently thinking of just putting the words ‘Blah, blah, alien’ in red letters on the page before skipping it for now and getting on with editing.
That’s it, the entry for the mentorship scheme has been sent. I could have sat and twiddled about with it more and more by moving individual words about into a different order to make it seem better but I would be kidding myself. The deadline is this Friday at 5pm, I did not want to be running around like a banshee pulling it all together in the final moments. There was a moment when Yahoo Mail wasn’t allowing me to put hyperlinks into the text. My wife detected me stressing and calmly advised just shutting down Chrome and going back in. This seemed to work.
I received an email back within half an hour saying that my entry had been noted. Apparently there are six spots in the scheme but really, for me, there’s only five because they’ve guaranteed one slot for somebody under the age of 24. This is probably a really good way of running it as there have been plenty of times recently when I’ve read about various writing schemes, thought it sounded great before realising that I’m far too old for the age range they’re open to. Seems like sometimes there’s a belief that if you haven’t made it by your mid 20’s then you’re never going to make it at all.
The personal statement I wrote was written, scrapped, written again and then changed about before finalising. Originally I went with something really formal like it was a job application. Then I wrote something that was very similar to the ‘About’ page on this site but that gave a bit too much history and I’d ran out of words before answering why I would benefit from mentorship. In the end I went for a story about how working a day job whilst having ambitions of writing for a living is a little bit like accidentally getting off the train at the station before the one you wanted. You’re on the right line but you’ve no choice but to wait for the next train to come along. It felt a bit strange putting that in there but it’s a writing based mentorship so they’ll be used to metaphors. At least I hope they are.
The response email signed off by saying that they’re running this every year and there are plans afoot to expand to more than 6 spaces as of 2020. Apparently there’s nothing to stop me applying again next year if unsuccessful this time around. I’m not sure if that’s a set up for a gentle let down later or not but I’m beyond caring now. Quite simply something that a week ago I was convincing myself wasn’t worth it because they wouldn’t want me is now something I’ve entered with the best of my current ability. I’ve honestly probably put more effort into this than any job application I’ve ever done.
It’s a hell of a lot easier taking blocks of text from the old draft file, pasting them into the lovely new one (that actually has a spell checker) and then cleaning them up from there rather than trying to come up with something from scratch. The blank screen is still there but with a couple of clicks you’re thinking that three thousand words have just landed and now you’ve just got to pick through them.
To be honest the opening chapter is…not that bad actually. It’s clear that I was rushing headlong into this story at the time of writing and wasn’t worried about story structure, word counts or themes yet. It’s pure and simply an introduction to one main character and her reactions to a town she used to know. Much like my alien the actual town itself didn’t have a name in the opening of draft one but it does now. I’m trying to make the effort to put as much of my small town Scotland experience into the town of Auldrigg. Reading parts of the initial rewrite now I imagine my Mum reading it and getting where all the references come from.
Having never really edited a first draft before I’m wondering what the first step is going to be. The most likely route I’ll be going down is writing down all my chapters in numerical order with a one sentence line about what happens in each. Then I’ll have a general overview about what happens in the story, what needs fixed and what needs cut all together. The concern I have is that I planned out nineteen chapters but it’s ended up being thirty four.
My other big worry right now is that there are parts in which I’ll expand outwards with. I’ve always been of the impression that you had to cut down when editing. The whole point is that you’re cutting down all the fat.
Yet here I am, with entire sections that are basically ‘something happens here’ that’ll need fleshed out. What I have at the moment is the pencil outline, I’m adding the shades right now.
I have a wrestling article to finish and a game review for a website. After that the battle starts all over again.
In a side note, for those keeping score, I made the fourth attempt at home made sourdough yesterday at it turned out like a Frisbee.
300g of starter
About 300ml of water.
And 5g rock salt
Has given me something that should be thrown as a sport not eaten